- Directed by Jim Phillips -
Life-O-Matic is a comedy horror depicting the breakdown of a man trapped in a strange reality where advertising took over people’s lives.
The universe of Life-O-Matic is the nightmare of every TV watcher that rushes to change the channel when commercials interrupt the program. From day to dawn, people talk in text advertisements, smiling at an imaginary camera, proudly presenting the marketable qualities of everything from pajamas to window cleaner.
The viewer meets the convention right from the beginning: “Life-O-Matic, you can’t live just one”.
The feeling is that you get to see a 90’s style advertisement, talky, overly-explanative, featuring characters facing the camera and displaying a continuous large smile and an upbeat voice. But the product is a little disconcerting: a repetitive life that turns you into an advertising robot. But what the film does is actually just exaggerating the habits of the existent throw away culture. After all, people recommend each other products every day, boasting about new brand discoveries, sales, and coupons. We are reminded to buy on a regular basis.
Jeff and June live the Life-O-Matic with their two children, Jamie and Janine. Average people in a typical middle-class home with a patio, in a nice community, the family has all the commodities and incessantly talk about them. Jeff wakes up from the advertising trance but has a hard time connecting to anyone around him. Like a casual American psycho, he gets annoyed by a neighbor, kills him, steals his chainsaw and sets on a mission to set his family free from their enslaved state.
A commentary on the absurdity of consumerism, this eerie short is a horror comedy. The protagonist starts a family massacre, but the splashes of blood and the absent-mindedness of the characters give a cynical comical touch to the tragedy. The typecasted actors have a good chemistry and give a disciplined performance.
The story is simple, gory and well-paced, leaving the viewer in surprise. The film displays the visual style of a retro commercial, with frame-centered characters on a neat background and lots of medium shots; the editing is smooth and efficient, while the soundtrack consists of up-tempo singles.
Life-O-Matic is a film with an intriguing premise that delivers a smart and amusing story. I would call it A Domestic Chainsaw Massacre.